Artists

Conductor

6 - 8 Apr '20

Tour VI
6 - 8 Apr '20

Valery Gergiev

Tour

Concert dates and locations

Artists

Programme

Overture As a prelude to each concert, talented Swiss singers and instrumentalists will have the opportunity to introduce themselves to the public. This is a twofold "overture", which not only serves as an introduction to the concerts but also as a career gateway for our "our stars of tomorrow”.


Ouverture

In the summer of 1910, Stravinsky moved with his family to Clarens, on the shores of Lake Geneva. He then had the idea to compose an orchestral piece in which the piano would play a predominant role. “In composing the music, I had in mind a distinct picture of a puppet, suddenly endowed with life, exasperating the patience of the orchestra with diabolical cascades of arpeggios. The orchestra, in turn, retaliates with menacing trumpet blasts. The outcome is a terrific noise which reaches its climax and ends in the sorrowful and querulous collapse of the poor puppet,” the composer explained in his Autobiography. The impresario Diaghilev was very enthusiastic about the project and immediately persuading Stravinsky "to develop the theme of the puppet's sufferings and make it into a whole ballet." The Ballets Russes premiered Petrushka on 13 June 1911 in Paris under Pierre Monteux. Vaslav Nijinsky – for whom Stravinsky had much admiration – danced the title role in Michel Fokine's choreography. The press was somewhat divided after the dress rehearsal, but the public gave the first performance an enthusiastic ovation. A year after completing The Firebird, Stravinsky demonstrated with Petrushka that he was near to achieving a musical language resolutely turned towards the future in terms of harmony, instrumentation and rhythm. "Petrushka is the first of Stravinsky's works of importance where the composer is completely himself," said conductor Ernest Ansermet. In 1947, Stravinsky reorchestrated Petrushka, reducing the number of instruments to make the piece more suitable for concert performances.
Stravinsky's catalogue includes three "concerto-like" works, but each of them deviates from the classical concerto form. In 1924, the Russian composer premiered his Piano Concerto in Paris, with an accompanying ensemble consisting only of winds, timpani and double bass. In 1959, he composed a Concerto for piano and groups of instruments he later retitled Mouvements. This is an example of serial writing, where the piano part is closely intertwined with the other instruments. Between these two pieces, Stravinsky wrote his Capriccio (1928-29), a three-movement concerto that refers to the Baroque concerto grosso through contrasting orchestral units. In his Autobiography, Stravinsky justified his choice of the title (taken from the third movement, Allegro capriccioso): "I had in mind the definition of a capriccio given by Praetorius, the celebrated musical authority of the eighteenth [sic] century. He regarded it as a synonym of the Fantasia, which was a free form of fugato instrumental passages.” The composer also acknowledged that he derived inspiration from the music of Carl-Maria von Weber for this work that shows great melodic elegance and rhythmic vitality. Stravinsky himself played the piano part at the premiere, which his friend Ernest Ansermet conducted in Paris on 6 December 1929.
"Mark him well; he is a man on the eve of celebrity," predicted Diaghilev between two rehearsals of The Firebird at the Paris Opera, the year following the launching of the Ballets Russes. This man was Igor Stravinsky, who the famous impresario had commissioned to compose a ballet based on an ancient Russian legend. A godsend for this young composer, who was then twenty-seven years old and fascinated by the world of dance. First performed at the Paris Opera on 25 June 1910, The Firebird was a spectacular success that earned Stravinsky widespread recognition and admiration from his peers. Debussy was the first to come on stage and warmly congratulate his young Russian colleague at the end of the performance. This premiere not only established Stravinsky's reputation overnight, but also sparked a revitalisation of music through the new possibilities offered by the world of ballet. This dazzling score makes use of chromatic writing to illustrate the legend's supernatural dimension and much simpler turns indebted to Russian folklore to portray the world of mortals. Stravinsky later found the orchestration "unnecessarily opulent" and reduced it for the three orchestra Suites he drew from his ballet. The first Suite, written in 1911 already, is intended for a large orchestra. It comprises five numbers and culminates with the famous Infernal Dance.

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Good to know

Born in Moscow, Valery Gergiev studied conducting with the legendary Ilya Musin at the Leningrad Conservatory. After winning the 1976 Herbert von Karajan Competition and the Soviet Union Conducting Competition in Moscow, he was invited to join the Kirov Theatre where he was assistant to Yuri Temirkanov, before being appointed Artistic Director of the opera company. Since 1996, Valery Gergiev is the General Music Director of the Mariinsky Theatre. Equally at ease in both the opera and the symphony repertoire, Valery Gergiev has collaborated as guest conductor with the world’s finest orchestras and theatres. Former Music Director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the Russian musician was also Principal Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra (2007-2015), before being appointed Principal Conductor of the Munich Philharmonic. He also works regularly with the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Teatro alla Scala in Milan. In St. Petersburg, he is founder and Artistic Director of the Stars of the White Nights Festival and the various festivals associated with the Mariinsky Theatre. Valery Gergiev's extensive recording activity, devoted mainly to the Russian repertoire, has earned him many awards. The chef now records for the Mariinsky’s own label, which was launched in 2009.

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